Many companies, including mom and pop shops, can use market research software to find out how their business fares with customers. As long as you have a basic understanding of word processing, spreadsheets, and an electronic contact list to start with, you can cobble together a research plan.
Many companies offer their products as web-based Application Service Provider solutions (ASPs), charging license fees rather than selling you a CD with stand-alone software to load onto your PC. This allows you greater choice, as you can purchase as much or as little as you need, and add on later as you grow. Keep in mind the old saying "you get what you pay for" when considering three broad tiers of ASP service:
1. Value-based market research survey software for small business or individual projects
2. Mid-tier business research software to incorporate research results into marketing or sales initiatives
3. High-end marketing analysis software for full support of permanent market research departments
Stay within shoestring budgets with small business survey creation softwareUse survey software to create and send questionnaires to colleagues or clients. Some companies offer introductory services free. While the web survey software is very limited, it's adequate for a stand-alone survey or to help you decide whether you need something more robust for your business. Services who do charge generally ask anywhere from $40 to $500 per month. The lower-priced offerings limit the service to a low number of questions in the survey, respondents you can send the survey to or length of time you can access your information.
Stretch mid-size budgets by incorporating software for marketing research into business processesUse online market research software that integrates survey data into sales and marketing efforts, rather than treating business research as a stand-alone function. This lets you justify the budget by including research as part of marketing and sales, including research as a vital part of the program rather than a separate department or line-item to be axed at the next budget meeting. Fees are reasonable for a mid-size firm, from $1,000 or $2,000 for a base level up to $5,000 or $6,000 for a premium service. Look for a one-time charge rather than annual fees for this level of service. Also if you need more than one person working on the system, multi-user licenses can run substantially higher, approaching $10,000.
Get the biggest bang for the buck with large-scale market research analysis softwareIf you have a permanent market research program, review and compare packages to avoid buying too much software: some Internet market research software companies offer modules so you only buy and use what you need. You purchase an initial license for a core package for roughly $1,500 then add modules for around $750 to $950 per module. Other companies bundle statistics and graphing capabilities into one comprehensive package and charge higher prices, starting around $7,000 or more. These firms charge a first-year license followed by annual maintenance fees ranging between 25% and 30% of the initial price, based on when you first ordered it.
- Student versions of market research software solutions are usually much cheaper for a reason: they're considerably more limited, either in the questionnaire length, the number of respondents you can contact and collect responses from or the extent of tabulation or analysis you can perform.